Urinary tract infections (UTI), the most common of all bacterial infections, are painful.
The good news is that they ARE treatable.
Read on to learn more about UTIs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
WHAT IS A UTI?
The urinary tract is divided into the upper urinary tract and the lower urinary tract. The upper urinary tract contains the kidneys and the ureters; the lower urinary tract contains the bladder and the urethra.
A urinary tract infection is an infection that can develop in any part of your urinary system, but it is commonly found in the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra).
According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in five women experience a UTI. Women who have a shorter urethra are most likely to develop a UTI. Having a shorter urethra makes it easier for bacteria to pass through; however, men can also get them.
SYMPTOMS OF UTIs
There can be many symptoms of a UTI, but they should all be looked at by your doctor:
- Frequent or strong urge to urinate
- Cloudy, bloody or strong-smelling urine
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches and abdominal pains
WHAT CAUSES A UTI?
Most UTIs are caused from the bacteria Escherichia (E. coli).
The urinary system is designed to keep out bacteria, but sometimes, the defenses can fail. UTIs occur when bacteria enters your urinary tract system through the urethra and multiplies in the bladder.
There are three forms of UTIs: Cystitis, urethritis, and if you don’t get a UTI treated, pyelonephritis.
- Infection of the bladder (cystitis): Cystitis may occur as a result of sexual intercourse and E. coli. This type of UTI could also occur through noninfectious factors such as taking certain medications, using bubble baths and feminine hygiene products or receiving radiation treatments.
- Infection of the urethra (urethritis): Urethritis can occur when gastrointestinal (GI) bacteria spreads from the anus to the urethra.
If you don’t get your UTI treated, pyelonephritis could occur.
- Infection of the kidneys (pyelonephritis): Acute pyelonephritis is a sudden and severe kidney infection resulting from not getting a UTI treated. If an individual has this condition, they could also experience back pain, high fever, chills and fatigue. You should be evaluated by your doctor immediately.
If you think you may have a UTI based on your symptoms, contact your doctor. Your doctor will review your symptoms and perform a physical examination.
To confirm it is a UTI, your urine will need to be tested. The urine sample needed will be collected at the middle of your urinary stream, rather than the beginning, to avoid collecting bacteria from your skin.
To test the sample, your doctor will look for large numbers of white blood cells, which can indicate an infection.
If a person has recurring UTIs, a doctor may do further diagnostic testing. These tests include:
- Diagnostic testing: This involves assessing the urinary tract using ultrasounds, CT scans, X-rays or MRI scanning.
- Urodynamics: This procedure determines how well the urinary tract is storing and releasing urine.
- Cystoscopy: This allows the doctor to see inside the bladder and urethra with a camera lens, which is inserted through the urethra through a thin tube.
There are common conditions that may lead to recurring UTIs:
- Kidney stones
- Having a catheter
- Sexual activity
- Previous urinary tract surgery
- Being born with an abnormality of the urinary tract
UTIs are commonly treated by antibiotics. The type of medication and length of treatment will depend on the symptoms you are experiencing.
UTI symptoms can disappear before the infection is fully gone; however, it is important that the full course of antibiotics are taken to make sure the infection is completely gone.
RECURRENT INFECTIONS IN WOMEN
Women who have recurrent bladder infections may be advised to:
- Take a single, daily dose of an antibiotic for at least six months
- Take a single dose of an antibiotic after sexual contact
- Take a two to three day course of an antibiotic if symptoms reappear
- Undergo vaginal estrogen therapy if you have already had menopause
HOME REMEDIES FOR UTIs
There are remedies that people can try to do at home to prevent UTIs and help symptoms:
- Drink plenty of water: Fluids can help flush out the bacteria from your body.
- Avoid drinks that may irritate your bladder: Avoid coffee, alcohol and soft drinks containing caffeine until your infection has cleared. They can irritate your bladder and aggravate your need to urinate.
- Cranberry juice: Cranberry juice does not treat a UTI once it has developed. However, chemicals in cranberries can prevent certain types of bacteria that can cause UTI bacteria from attaching to the bladder.
You can prevent UTIs or reinfection by:
- Emptying your bladder as soon as you feel the need to go
- Wipe front to back
- Drink lots of water
- Take showers over baths
- Cleanse your genital area before sex
- Urinate after sex to flush any bacteria that may have entered through the urethra
PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT
Your doctor or healthcare professional can treat most UTIs.
Prepare for your appointment with these four quick tips:
- Ask if there is anything you need to do in advance (like collecting a urine sample)
- Note your symptoms
- List your medications
- Prepare questions
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR DOCTOR
Your doctor will likely ask these questions:
- When did you first notice symptoms?
- How severe is the discomfort?
- Have you been treated for bladder infections in the past?
- How often do you urinate?
- Are symptoms relieved by urinating?
- Are you sexually active?
- Do you notice blood in your urine?
- Only women get UTIs: Men can also get UTIs. It is pretty rare for younger men, but it is more common for older men.
- Only sexually active women can get UTIs: UTIs can happen at any stage in life.
- UTIs are caused by poor hygiene: Getting a UTI doesn’t mean you have poor hygiene. You can be completely clean and still get a UTI.
- A UTI is preventable: Unfortunately, a UTI is not 100 percent preventable. There are steps to reduce your chance of getting a UTI (listed above).
WOMEN’S HEALTHCARE OF MORGANTOWN | TREATING UTIS
If you are experiencing pain while urinating or have a frequent urge to urinate, schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. These could be signs of a UTI.
At Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown, we are dedicated to serving our patients and leading them to a healthy lifestyle.
If you think you may have a UTI, call us today to schedule an appointment: 304-599-6353